Indonesia’s female Islamic clerics have issued a fatwa against child marriage and urged the government to increase the minimum legal age for women to marry to 18 from the current 16, reported BBC. The fatwa was issued on Thursday at a three-day congress of female clerics on Java island.
“Religion has prescribed its followers to prevent mudarat [haarm]. The maslahat [benefit] of a sakinah [peaceful] family can never be gained if there is too much harm. Early marriage has been proven to bring harm,” the female clerics at the meeting said according to Jakarta Post.
The clerics also said that it was the responsibility of the parents and the community to prevent child marriage. Fatwas against women being sexually abused and environmental destruction were also issued at the congress, AFP reported.
Nine Rahayu, the conference organiser, said maternal mortality rate had been very high in Indonesia. “Female clerics know the issues and obstacles women face, we can take action and not just wait for the government to protect these children,” she told Reuters.
A fatwa is not legally binding but holds importance among the people in Indonesia – a Muslim majority country. The Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s highest Islamic authority, regularly issues fatwas.
Indonesia is one of the countries with the highest number of child marriages in the world. One in four women in Indonesia are married off before the age of 18, according to the United Nation Children’s Fund report released last year.